A SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD boy and his friend are going to cycle from coast to coast to raise money for charity in the name of his mother who died on Sunday.

Ross Graham’s mother, Helen, who was 51, asked her son to raise money for the MacMillan Nurses before she died.

Ross, of Billingham, and his friend, Joe Howard, also 16, have already taken a combined total of £9,764 from a variety of fundraising activities and will cycle from Whitehaven to Sunderland on Monday, July 14.

The pair have just completed their GCSEs, which Ross, a pupil of St Michael’s RC Academy in Billingham, completed knowing his mother was fatally ill with skin cancer which had spread to other parts of her body.

His proud father, David Graham, who explained Helen had been fighting cancer for five years but was only told the condition was fatal last August, said: “I told Ross to go out on his bike the day after Helen died, so he could keep to his training, and he did 65 miles with Joe. This trip was something his mum was very proud he was doing.

“Helen had a strong faith that that helped all of us cope. She had words of kindness for everyone. She was extremely proud of both her children.”

Ross explained he asked his mother which charity she wanted him to support and dedicated himself to the MacMillan Nurses that moment on. He said: “Mam was so supportive of everyone. She was just a fantastic mother.”

Ross and Joe held a major fundraising day at St Michael’s school and Ross’s older sister, Bethany, 19 has also helped raise money.

Support has come from Joe’s father, Paul Howard, who will provide back-up for the boys on their 140-mile, two-day journey. The Billingham Legacy Fund has provided some money to cover costs so every penny raised by the boys will go to the charity.

Mr Graham, 51, has just retired as managing director of chemical firm Croda International, which he said had been “very supportive” over the last nine months, so he can support his family.

The Grahams are hoping mourners who go to Helen’s funeral on Friday will donate to the Butterwick Hospice in Stockton rather than buying flowers.

Find out more and donate to the boys’ fundraising campaign at justgiving.com/Ross-Graham4